Donald Trump is the 1st candidate to submit signatures for Maine's … – Bangor Daily News
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AUGUSTA, Maine — Former President Donald Trump submitted signatures Friday to qualify for Maine’s 2024 Republican primary, becoming the first White House hopeful to do so ahead of the high-stakes election.
The perfunctory step formally kicks off the campaign ahead of the primaries here on March 5, 2024. They will be the first ones in Maine history to be subject to ranked-choice voting, although state Republicans have decided to only select delegates based on the first-round tallies.
Despite a crowded primary field and criminal charges that may dog Trump past Election Day, he is the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination to take on President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is facing even less resistance in his own nominating race for now.
On Friday, Trump’s campaign submitted more than the required 2,000 signatures from Republican voters here to get on the ballot. His campaign was represented at a news conference outside the State House in Augusta by Demi Kouzounas, the former state party chair who was ousted from that role early this year.
“I was blown away by the energy in every single county of the state,” she said.
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ office was reviewing the signatures on Friday afternoon. Party candidates have until Dec. 1 to get signatures to the state. They face a key Monday deadline in getting those same signatures certified by clerks in Maine cities and towns.
Many of the campaigns were making final pushes at polling places during the state’s Nov. 7 election. Maine traditionally gets little attention until the end of its nominating process, in stark contrast with neighboring New Hampshire’s famed first-in-the-nation primary set for Jan. 23 of next year.
A rematch of the divisive 2020 race between Biden and Trump seems like the safest bet at the moment. The two men are deeply unpopular. The president’s approval sits just above 40 percent in a virtual tie with the former president’s favorability, according to Real Clear Politics.
Yet Trump still holds a commanding lead in national polls, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the runner-up, stuck in the low teens. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were the former president’s main competition in a University of New Hampshire poll released this week, but Trump was still 22 percentage points ahead of Haley.
BDN writer Billy Kobin contributed to this report.
Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University… More by Michael Shepherd